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The Statistics Story

June 9, 2011

Elizabeth Clark is an Economist  in the International Trade Administration‘s Office of Trade Industry Information.

Economists, journalists, Wall Street executives and main street businesses as well as consumers look at a variety of economic indicators and data for information on how the economy is doing. The indicators above give us an idea of how our manufacturing sector is fairing, in good times and bad it’s these economic indicators that help to keep us on our toes and ready to take advantage of an increasingly global marketplace.

Looking at today’s trade in goods and services numbers will show you a pretty good story about the state of America’s manufacturing sector. For instance, in the first four months of 2011, U.S. exports of manufacturing products increased by $56.9 billion (16.5 percent) to reach $401.4 billion up from $344.5 billion recorded in the first four months of 2010. Major growth categories by value in the first four months of 2011 include petroleum and coal products (up 66.2%), basic chemicals (up 21.0%), nonferrous metal products (up 34.7%), motor vehicles (up 19.2%), and agricultural and construction machinery (up 25.4%).

While those numbers are impressive, they only tell a portion of the story.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May 2011, average hourly earnings in manufacturing were rising, up 0.1 percent from previous month, and up 1.8 percent from May 2010. Additionally, manufacturing sector productivity rose 4.2 percent in the first-quarter of 2011, as output increased 7.7 percent and hours increased 3.3 percent.

The International Trade Administration provides valuable data and resources on trade statistics, including state and metro export data, profiles of exporting companies, a bi-weekly manufacturing report, as well as a nifty mapping tool that allows you to see the geographic reach of our exports by product or state. http://www.trade.gov/mas/ian/tradestatistics/index.asp

Information is golden and having the tools at your fingertips to sift through the relevant information and make sense of it yourself is a powerful advantage.